The number of traffic accidents that occur in the state of Massachusetts – and Boston, where levels of congestion are high – is a serious problem. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that there were 328 traffic fatalities in Massachusetts in the most recent year of accident data. Fortunately, most crashes do not result in fatalities. But many do result in property damage and injuries, often totaling thousands of dollars. If you are a driver in Boston, make sure you are familiar with safe driving techniques to avoid accidents. Here are some driving safety tips to keep in mind each time you get behind the wheel.
Driving Safety Tip #1: Make Sure Your Car Is Well Maintained and Prepared for the Weather
Make sure that your car is well maintained. Car maintenance includes changing your oil regularly, checking the tire pressure and adding air when necessary, checking the tires for signs of tread wear, replacing your windshield wiper blades, topping off the wiper fluid, and having a mechanic inspect the brakes. Worn tires and underinflated tires are a cause of many accidents. If you do not have the skill necessary to perform adequate vehicle maintenance on your own, be sure to hire a professional!
Just maintaining your car is not enough. Watch the weather and be sure that your car is equipped to handle it. When roads are covered with snow and ice, does your vehicle have four-wheel drive or snow tires? When it is pouring rain, are your windshield wiper blades in good shape so that they keep the windshield clear? Has the engine coolant been checked or topped off recently? If temperatures reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, will your car overheat because the coolant is low? All of these are important considerations. If the weather is treacherous, do not drive in it if it is possible to avoid.
Driving Safety Tip #2: Put Away Distractions
Distractions while you are driving are incredibly dangerous, and greatly increase your risk of being involved in an accident. Unfortunately, most drivers assume that the majority of distractions – such as eating or talking on the phone when behind the wheel – are harmless. However, doing anything other than focusing on the road while driving a vehicle can create a distraction that involves taking your hands, eyes or mind off the road. Some distractions such as texting and driving involve all three types of distractions at the same time. Check the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s page on Distracted Driving for more information.
Some distracting behaviors that you should refrain from while driving include:
- Using a tablet or other handheld device;
- Talking on the phone;
- Tuning the radio;
- Looking out the window;
- Talking to passengers;
- Tending to children or pets; and
Driving Safety Tip #3: Slow Down & Drive Defensively
If you want to know how to avoid car accidents, slowing down and driving defensively are key steps. Just because the posted speed limit is 65 miles per hour does not mean that you have to drive that fast. You should drive at a safe speed for the existing road and weather conditions. If traffic is heavy and it is raining, travelling at a slower speed of 55 miles per hour may be more appropriate. Even if you are in a rush to get somewhere, arriving to your destination safely is more important than arriving quickly.
In addition to driving more slowly, you should also drive defensively. This means not defending your position in traffic or being aggressive with other drivers. If a vehicle is driving too slowly in front of you, simply pass the vehicle to the left, but do not tailgate. If you are being tailgated, do not be insistent about retaining your spot. Allow the vehicle to pass.
Defensive driving also means paying attention to what other drivers are doing. If you are stopped at a four-way stop and have the right of way, make sure that other drivers are stopping before you proceed.
Driving Safety Tip #4: Drive When Well Rested and Sober
Two of the most dangerous ways to drive are when you are impaired by alcohol or drugs or seriously fatigued. These conditions interfere with your ability to recognize hazards and respond quickly to avoid accidents. They increase your risk of being involved in an accident. To improve your chances of arriving at your destination safely, commit to driving while 100 percent sober and only after you have had a good night’s sleep and do not feel too tired to operate your car safely. Even a single drink may impair your driving abilities. If you have had a drink or feel exhausted, call a friend, a family member, a taxi, a rideshare service, or take the T. There is no point in risking your safety.
Driving Safety Tip #5: Remind Your Kids of Safe Driving Techniques
Driving safely is especially important for teens, who suffer from a high number of accidents and car accident injuries every year. Remind your teen to keep both hands on the wheel, follow posted traffic laws, and avoid distractions such as talking on a cell phone.
After a Car Crash, Our Boston Car Accident Attorneys Can Help
We hope that you are never involved in a car crash, and that if you are, your damages are minor. If you do happen to be in an accident, though, especially one that results in significant injuries or losses, we want you to know that our attorneys are ready to help. At Kelly & Soto Law, our skilled Boston car accident lawyers have represented many car accident victims who were harmed by the carelessness of other motorists. We know what it takes to negotiate with an insurance company and recover fair compensation for victims of accidents caused by negligence. Contact us today to schedule your free case consultation and learn more!